Family-friendly gyms make working out convenient

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, many parents just can't find the time to fit in a good workout. After a
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, many parents just can't find the time to fit in a good workout.

After a long day at work and running children to and from extracurricular activities, there's not a lot of time left.

"I usually run the kids back and forth and by time I drop off one, it's time to pick up the other across town," said Norwalk parent Stella Daniel. "There's jut not enough time in the day."

In its new location on Cleveland Road, American Pride Athletics -- formerly American Pride Gymnastics -- has come up with a solution.

"We've partnered with the gym next door, and both locations are providing discounts to parents who want to drop their kids off for a lesson and get a quick workout in themselves," said American Pride Athletics co-owner Brian Riffle.

Although there aren't any specific programs geared toward adults at American Pride Athletics, Riffle said since the beginning there was talk of creating an adult-friendly environment.

"We originally planned on having something fitness-wise for adults, but decided why do our own when the fitness club is right there?" he said. "We're excited about the partnership. It was our intention to come up with a place where families could come and do multiple things."

Under renovation, American Pride is tucked in the Sandusky Plaza next to Health & Strength Gym and offers youth activities like gymnastics, tumbling, biddy wrestling and cheerleading.

"We're also going to be starting Lunch and Tumble in the summer, where mothers can be in on the action helping students with rolls and simple gymnastics," Riffle said. "There will also be play time, and Pizza Pan will be delivering in the pizza. It's a way for us to help get kids away from the TV and help theparents show thechildren how important it is to stay fit."

Competition can be fierce, but that's not the primary focus.

"Leading a healthy life style is much more important than winning," he said. "It's more important for a child to learn slowly and have fun with what they're doing than to win a lot and grow up hating the sport because winning was stressed instead of fitness."

In the next few months, Riffle hopes to have a rock-climbing wall installed, audiovisual equipment with delay so athletes can see their progress, an archery classes offered in the fall and several dodgeball games.

"The kids love dodgeball," he said laughing. "It's a great workout and they don't even realize how many muscles they're using."

"They're starting to add more sports for the boys to do, football, baseball," said Sandusky parent Chris Weatherly. "It really builds their self-esteem and their confidence. The coaches are great with kids, the best in the area. It's nice to dip your feet into something your kids might enjoy."

For siblings not quite ready to take part, there are three televisions in the back of the gym to watch television, play games or listen to audio.

Riffle said there are plans to put in picnic table seating for families to get comfortable and eat between activities.

"A family can come in and relax while waiting for activities," Riffle said. "The most important thing we stress is being healthy and active. If parents and kids can accomplish that by coming to us, then that's great."

Parents are strongly encouraged to watch and participate in their children's progress, both competitive and noncompetitive.

"It's nice to be able to bring the whole family here," said Shane Zavala watching his daughter Emma, 5, participating in Gym Kids. "She loves being involved and learning things with the other kids."

"They're having a good time, but they don't realize they're getting a great amount of exercise," Riffle said.

"I bring my grandkids a lot; they love it here," said Gayle Francis, who has worked for American Pride for 10 years.

Not only are parents ecstatic about the offerings, but students are as well.

"(I come here) because they're good at what they do," said student instructor Brooke Chamberlin. "They've taught me to better use my talents."